WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot said Sunday they’ve uncovered enough evidence for the Justice Department to think about an unprecedented criminal indictment against former President Donald Trump for looking for to overturn the outcomes of the 2020 election.
The committee announced that Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, is among the many witnesses scheduled to testify at a hearing Monday that focuses on Trump’s effort to spread his lies a couple of stolen election. Stepien was subpoenaed for his public testimony.
Because the hearings unfold, Rep. Adam Schiff said he would love the department to “investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the a part of Donald Trump.” Schiff, D-Calif., who also leads the House Intelligence Committee, said that ”there are particular actions, parts of those different lines of effort to overturn the election that I don’t see evidence the Justice Department is investigating.”
The committee launched its public hearings last week, with members laying out their case against Trump to indicate how the defeated president relentlessly pushed his false claims of a rigged election despite multiple advisers telling him otherwise and the way he intensified a rare scheme to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.
Additional evidence is to be released in hearings this week, Democrats say, that may display that Trump and a few of his advisers engaged in a “massive effort” to spread misinformation, pressured the Justice Department to embrace his false claims, and urged then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject state electors and block the vote certification on Jan. 6, 2021.
Stepien, a longtime Trump ally, is now a top campaign adviser to the Trump-endorsed House candidate in Wyoming’s Republican primary, Harriet Hageman, who’s difficult Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair and a vociferous critic of the previous president. A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowich, suggested that the committee’s decision to call Stepien was politically motivated.
Monday’s witness list also includes BJay Pak, the highest federal prosecutor in Atlanta who left his position on Jan. 4, 2021, a day after an audio recording was made public through which Trump called him a “never-Trumper”; Chris Stirewalt, the previous political editor for Fox News; noted Washington elections attorney Benjamin Ginsberg; and Al Schmidt, a former city commissioner in Philadelphia.
The panel can even give attention to the hundreds of thousands of dollars Trump’s team brought in fundraising within the run-up to Jan. 6, in accordance with a committee aide who insisted on anonymity to debate the small print.
The committee has said most of those interviewed within the investigation are coming forward voluntarily, although some have wanted subpoenas to seem in public. Filmmaker Nick Quested, who provided documentary footage of the attack, said during last week’s hearing he received a subpoena to seem.
Committee members said they’d present clear evidence that “multiple” GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., had sought a pardon from Trump, which might protect him from prosecution. Perry on Friday denied he ever did so, calling the assertion an “absolute, shameless, and soulless lie.”
“We’re not going to make accusations or say things without proof or evidence backing it,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Unwell.
Lawmakers indicated that perhaps their most vital audience member over the course of the hearings could also be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must determine whether his department can and will prosecute Trump. They left little question as to their very own view whether the evidence is sufficient to proceed.
“Once the evidence is gathered by the Justice Department, it must make a call about whether it could prove to a jury beyond an affordable doubt the president’s guilt or anyone else’s,” Schiff said. “But they must be investigated if there’s credible evidence, which I feel there may be.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said he doesn’t intend to “browbeat” Garland but noted the committee has already specified by legal pleadings criminal statutes they consider Trump violated.
“I feel that he knows, his staff knows, the U.S. attorneys know, what’s at stake here,” Raskin said. “They know the importance of it, but I feel they’re rightfully paying close attention to precedent in history as well, because the facts of this case.”
Garland has not specified whether he could be willing to prosecute, which could be unprecedented and will be complicated in a political election season through which Trump has openly flirted with the concept of running for president again.
No president or ex-president has ever been indicted.
Richard Nixon resigned from office in 1974 as he faced an impeachment and a possible grand jury indictment on charges of bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. President Gerald Ford later pardoned his predecessor before any criminal charges related to Watergate may very well be filed.
Legal experts have said a Justice Department prosecution of Trump over the riot could set an uneasy precedent through which an administration of 1 party could more routinely go after the previous president of one other.
“We’ll follow the facts wherever they lead,” Garland said in his speech at Harvard University’s commencement ceremony last month.
A federal judge in California said in a March ruling in a civil case that Trump “more likely than not” committed federal crimes in looking for to obstruct the congressional count of the Electoral College ballots on Jan. 6, 2021. The judge cited two statutes: obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the US. Trump has denied all wrongdoing.
Schiff appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” Raskin spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” and Kinzinger was on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro in Washington and Associated Press author Jill Colvin in Latest York contributed to this report.
For full coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege